Same Sex Nuptials Are Now Certain To Remain Legal in New Jersey
Kissing Brides, Heather Jensen and Amy Quinn, an Asbury Park Councilwoman, celebrate their marriage shortly after midnight this morning. facebook photo
Given the State Supreme Court’s signal that the Christie administration would not prevail in its appeal of Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson’s decision compelling the State to grant same sex couples the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples, Governor Chris Christie withdrew his appeal today, the first day that gay couples can wed in New Jersey under Jacobson’s order and the Supreme Court’s refusal to stay that order.
“Although the governor strongly disagrees with the court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law,” said Colin Reed, a spokesman for Christie. “The governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”
State Senator Mike Doherty issued a statement condemning Christie for caving to the activist judiciary.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 21st, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Gay Marriage, Marriage Equality, Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act | Tags: Barbara Buono, Chris Chrisite, Gay Marriage, Marriage Equality, Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act, Same Sex Marriage, Senator Mike Doherty | 6 Comments »
Various news sources are reporting that Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) has “broken with Governor Christie” over the issue of same sex marriage.
The news reports are inaccurate.
O’Scanlon was never “with” Governor Christie on the same sex marriage issue. He’s been on the record as favoring the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act since February of 2012 when the bill passed both houses of the legislature and was vetoed by Christie.
O’Scanlon was absent from the February 2012 vote because he was attending Senator Jennifer Beck’s wedding in Jamaica. Upon his return to New Jersey, he told triCityNews that he would have voted for the bill had he been present and that he would vote to override Christie’s veto if it ever comes up for a vote.
triCityNews is not published online. Publisher Dan Jacobson verified my recollection of O’Scanlon’s quotes on the phone this evening.
The issue is in the news again because marriage equality advocates have been in Trenton this week lobbying for an override of Christie’s veto before the end of the legislative session in January.
The Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act passed the Senate with a vote of 24-16 and the Assembly by 42-33, with 5 Assembly members, including O’Scanlon and Mary Pat Angelini not voting. An override requires a 2/3 affirmative vote. In order for an override to succeed, the bill needs three additional yes votes in the Senate and 12 yes votes in the Assembly. O’Scanlon and Angelini represent two of the needed yes votes. Republican Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi of Bergen County also didn’t vote in 2012. Schepisi said she would vote to override, leaving the bill needing 9 votes to pass in the Assembly.
If there is a override vote, it probably won’t occur until the “lame duck” session after the November election and before the new legislature takes office in January.
Posted: September 19th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Declan O'Scanlon, Gay Marriage, Gender Equality, marriage, Marriage Equality, Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act, Mary Pat Angenlini, NJ State Legislature | Tags: Declan O'Scanlon, Gay Marriage, Holly Schepisi, Marriage Equality, Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act, Mary Pat Angelini, NJ Legislature, Same Sex Marriage | 6 Comments »
In an email sent to his members in the 11th Legislative District this afternoon, Garden State Equality President Steve Goldstein apologized for endorsing Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini in last November’s election.
Angelini, who has been very supportive of the gay lobbying group was absent for the Assembly vote on the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act on Thursday. The bill passed 42-33 with two Democrats voting NO.
Angelini was on vacation, celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary in Jamaica, according to Goldstein’s email.
Goldstein said that he and two other GSE members met with the Assemblywoman on Friday, February 10th in an attempt to persuade her to cut her vacation short in order to be present of the vote. Angelini refused stating that the bill had the votes to pass anyway and in the unexpected event that it failed, it would be voted on again in a matter of weeks.
Goldstein, and “an avalanche of calls and emails” said it did not matter that the bill had enough votes to pass:
Dear members, as so many of you have told us through your avalance of calls and emails, it shouldn’t matter whether or not Mary Pat’s vote was needed. She is elected to vote in the legislature, and certainly elected to vote on the biggest issues of the day – perhaps the biggest issue of all time to so many in her district like you. If you are a public servant, there are absoluely times to have personal lives. Was this really one of them, especially when the legislature will be on break in a month?
Goldstein said that the group was “deeply pained” by Angelini’s absence.
Goldstein said he received more calls and emails filled with “deep pain and anger” than he received after Sean Kean’s 2009 vote against a similar bill and Kean’s “remarkably insensitive speech” about that vote. The calls and emails suggested that GSE extract a written promise from Angelini that she will vote to override Governor Christie’s veto and that she work on other Republican legislators to do the same.
Goldstein’s entire email can be read here.
Asked to comment, Angelini said she had not seen the email. MMM forwarded it to her. This post will be update if she comments.
In addition to the comments about Angelini, Goldstein praised Senator Jennifer Beck for her work in support of the gay marriage bill. He also promised to make up for GSE’s endorsement of Angelini to Vin Gopal, one of Angelini’s opponents last November, in his upcoming race against Marlboro Councilman Frank LaRocca for the Monmouth County Democratic Chairmanship.
Posted: February 18th, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act | Tags: "LaHornicca", 11th Legislative District, Frank LaRocca, Garden State Equality, Gay Marriage, Jennifer Beck, Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act, Mary Pat Angelini, Monmouth County Democrats, NJ State Assembly, Steve Goldstein, Vin Gopal | 17 Comments »
Reiterates his call for the issue to be decided by the people via referendum
Calls for the establishment of an Ombudsman to enforce the Civil Union Law
Governor Chris Christie sent S-1, the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act, back to the legislature this afternoon with his conditional veto.
Christie issued the following statement regarding his action:
“Today, I am adhering to what I’ve said since this bill was first introduced – an issue of this magnitude and importance, which requires a constitutional amendment, should be left to the people of New Jersey to decide. I continue to encourage the Legislature to trust the people of New Jersey and seek their input by allowing our citizens to vote on a question that represents a profoundly significant societal change. This is the only path to amend our State Constitution and the best way to resolve the issue of same-sex marriage in our state.
“I have been just as adamant that same-sex couples in a civil union deserve the very same rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples – as well as the strict enforcement of those rights and benefits. Discrimination should not be tolerated and any complaint alleging a violation of a citizen’s right should be investigated and, if appropriate, remedied. To that end, I include in my conditional veto the creation of a strong Ombudsman for Civil Unions to carry on New Jersey’s strong tradition of tolerance and fairness. The Ombudsman will be charged with increasing awareness of the law regarding civil unions, will provide a clear point of contact for those who have questions or concerns and will be required to report any evidence of the law being violated. In this way, we can ensure equal treatment under the law.”
A copy of the Conditional Veto can be found here.
Posted: February 17th, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Chris Christie, Marriage Equality, Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act | Tags: Chris Christie, civil unions, Conditional Veto, Constitutional Amendment, Gay Marriage, Marriage Equality, Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act, Ombudsman, Referendum, S-1, Same Sex Marriage | 4 Comments »
Perhaps Not. Perhaps So.
That is not the question the Assembly should be considering when deciding the fate of the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act
The heart of the argument for same sex marriage advocates is that civil unions have not worked in establishing the rights and benefits that married couples enjoy to same sex committed couples, as the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered.
The anecdotal evidence that the gay community has provided to “prove” that civil unions don’t work has been compelling enough to cause some state legislators to change their position on same sex marriage since the issue was voted on in the Senate in 2006. Senator Shirley Turner voted YES for the marriage equality bill yesterday. She told Politickernj,
“I was wrestling with this,” said Turner, who was the 24th”aye” vote. “I felt we could accomplish it with civil unions but from what I have been hearing from gays and lesbians, they have been telling me it was not working. They were not being treated as equals, and I don’t want anyone being treated unequally.”
Assemblyman Peter Barnes, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is a Catholic who was previously opposed to same sex marriage. On February 2 he voted with his committee, 5-2, to move the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act to the full Assembly.
Barnes said it was the job of legislators to “tackle the difficult issues, whether we agree or disagree,” and his Catholic faith had put him at odds with this issue. Barnes told Politickernj,
“As a Catholic, as I really struggled with this over the past (few) years,” he said. “Tradition has not always been good, and it has not always been fair. Tradition can’t control our vote.”
“I will absolutely be voting for this out of committee today, and I am absolutely leaning in favor of voting for this on the floor,” Barnes said. “The civil union is not working…I don’t think reasonable minds can even disagree on that.”
“The civil union is not working….I don’t think reasonable minds can even disagree on that.”
A reasoning mind, which is very different from a reasonable would want more than heart wrenching stories and anecdotes from advocates before concluding that “the civil union is not working.”
One could easily make a reasonable argument that the civil union has worked. There were 5,790 civil unions registered from 2007 through 2011 and less than 20 civil rights complaints. If judged only by those statistics, a reasonable mind would conclude that civil unions have worked extraordinarily well.
But that is a reasonable conclusion, not a reasoning conclusion.
Patrick Murray, the Monmouth University pollster, blogged:
The New Jersey Supreme Court declared that the state must provide and protect identical legal rights for civilly joined same sex couples as it does for married heterosexual couples. Same sex marriage advocates argue this hasn’t happened in practice under the state’s civil union law. They have provided witnesses who give compelling stories of instances when their rights were denied. Opponents have argued these are isolated instances that can be corrected with improvements to existing law.
The researcher in me says there is a pretty easy way to determine this. Take a random sample of same sex civil union couples and a matched sample of heterosexual couples married at the same time and survey them. If the former group has had significantly more problems with health insurance, parental rights, having next of kin rights honored, etc. – then the argument that civil unions don’t meet the Court’s mandate would be strong. If not, perhaps the incidents are isolated and modifications to the current bill are all that is needed. This is something that should be examined honestly by our three governmental branches.
Murray’s methodology would bring far more reasoning to the debate than there has been to date. Such a study would be examined honestly by our three governmental branches, if they were serious about the issue and not playing politics. If Murray or another pollster could construct a poll that tested the veracity of the respondents while collecting the data, such a study would be very useful.
Yet, such a study would not resolve the issue.
If the study concluded that civil unions are working, gay marriage advocates would emphasize other arguments, “separate but equal” perhaps, in their fight to have their relationships called marriages.
If the study concluded that civil unions are not working, the reasonable approach, the approach that gay marriage advocates are pushing and reasonable minds are falling for, would be to call the relationships marriages.
A reasoning approach, assuming the objective is equal rights and benefits, would be to study why civil unions haven’t worked. Assuming that the relationships will not continue to suffer the inequities conveyed in the anecdotal stories the legislative committees have relied upon as evidence that civil unions are not working is not reasonable or reasoning. Changing the name of the relationships from civil unions to marriages will not be a panacea.
Civil unions were a completely new distinction in 2007. Employers, hospitals and others who have “caused” the inequities or inconveniences that same sex couples have suffered did not know what civil unions were. The forms that triage nurses used to admit patients into hospitals and the human resource personnel used to process employees did not have a box to check that said “civil union.” There was one heart wrenching story of a New York doctor saying “What the heck is that?” to a partner of a trauma patient explaining his relationship as next of kin. The doctor didn’t buy or understand that the partner was next of kin to his patient and the patient’s sister had to travel from Delaware to authorize “emergency” treatment. There will likely be other doctors who say “What the heck?” when a partner says “I’m his husband” when arguing that he is authorized to approve treatment.
Same sex couples argue that they shouldn’t have to carry official paperwork that explains and proves their relationship anymore than married couples should have to. All it will take is one multi-million dollar suit involving a partner who lies about martial status to authorize treatment that goes wrong before hospitals require all couples, gay or straight, to produce there relationship certificates before treating incapacitated patients.
“Why haven’t civil unions worked?” if they haven’t, is both a reasonable and reasoning question that should be asked if the objective of the Legislature is to ensure that same sex couples have equal rights.
There has been no effective method to ensure that civil unions work.
Garden State Equality, the gay advocacy group leading the way to same sex marriage has not wanted civil unions to work. They encourage their members to report discrimination to on their website. They don’t encourage civil rights complaints to the authorities. That explains why there is so much anecdotal evidence that civil unions don’t work and so few complaints.
Steve Goldstein, CEO of Garden State Equality, was Vice Chairman of the Civil Union Review Commission that concluded in 2008, one year after the civil union law became effective, that civil unions don’t work. Goldstein’s participation on the commission was clearly a conflict, especially in light of his work to ensure that civil unions not work by using stories of discrimination to advance his same sex marriage agenda and by encouraging his members to report discrimination to Garden State Equality rather than the Division of Civil Rights.
The question for legislators in the Assembly considering the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act should not be “Have civil unions worked?” Despite the reasonable evidence that they have worked—so few complaints with the Civil Right Division—there will be much work to do to ensure the civil rights of same sex couples even if their relationships are called marriages.
The question before members of the Assembly should be “What is marriage?”
Posted: February 14th, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: marriage, Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act | Tags: civil unions, Garden State Equality, Gay Marriage, marriage, Marriage Equality, Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act, Peter Barnes, Same Sex Marriage, Shirley Turner, Steve Goldstein | 25 Comments »